Reviewer:Robert B. Livingston
July 13, 2012 Subject:
This short is a small masterpiece
This short made in 1969 is as timely and honest a portrayal of heroin addiction today as when it was made.
Story, pictures and sound are powerfully composed.
October 7, 2009 Subject:
An Important Film
This is a great piece of filmmaking, one of the best shorts to be found on the Archive. Still as vital and valid today as 40 years ago, this is a real must-see.
October 3, 2009 Subject:
Best anti-drug short ever!
Why was my time wasted in the late 60s watching Sonny and Cher preaching about drugs, telling me that if I took any drug I would want to jump out of windows? Had I seen 'Day in the Death of Donny B' it would have scared the sh*t out of me, not make me laugh and want to get high!
They did a fantastic job putting this together (from a film perspective), with the haunting minimilistic score, location filming, interviews from various standpoints, and the fact that this is as effective and truthful now as it was then. I have known so many people like Donny B throughout the years, and this drug film doesn't just apply to heroin usage. They should show this in schools today.
April 7, 2006 Subject:
A good anti-drug movie! This has to be one of the most well done shorts on this site. Unlike most films of this genre, "A Day in the Death" manages to avoid the typical cliches. The acting is also surpisingly decent, never becoming exaggerated or melodramatic. Rather than using the usual condemning voice of a narrator, this film uses real commentary from people who have actually seen the effects of drugs first hand. As another plus, the cinematography in this flick is superb. The whole thing is artfully filmed in black and white, and some of the shots are as beautiful as still photography. And finally, as some of the other reviewers have mentioned, the music is perfect. This is truly a work of art!
June 6, 2005 Subject:
Bottle cap livin,bottle cap dead
This is in my opinion one of the best anti drug films of all times.I own 2 prints of this and regularly screen this.The music is great minamalist folk funk.(This song could be a Jandek song)The main character in this docudrama is I guess supposed to be kind of like Link from Mod Squad.The commentary is real and tends to wallow as this sort of subject matter often does.Mos def a top
Day in The Death of Donny B. does NOT portray a day in the life of a faded New Kids On The Block singer (That would be A Day In The Death of Donnie D) rather, we have Donny B, a strung out black guy on the streets of New York, looking for his next fix. For this, he needs money, prying off hubcaps, begging for money and heck even stealing doesnt bring results. Finally in two strokes of luck, he's able to get the money!
I love the way this was shot, great vintage and strange signs of New York are shown, the acting by the lead character is good, and a very hep lead song! Reccomended!
September 5, 2004 Subject:
As Depressing as Being Addicted to Herion
This 70s anti-drug film is one bleak trip. It features Donny B, a young black man whoÃÂs a junkie, as he makes his way through his bleak ghetto world, trying to score money for his next hit through such things as purse-snatching, panhandling, stealing hubcaps, and engaging in a crap game. On the soundtrack we hear his parents despairing over his future, former addicts describing the junkie lifestyle, and neighborhood cops informing us of the consequences of illegal drug use and addiction. This is actually one of the most realistic anti-drug films IÃÂve ever seen, though whether it really deterred any teens like Donny from drug use is questionable, considering the bleakness of their environment even without drugs.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: N/A. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
August 2, 2004 Subject:
This is Cinema-Verite!
From a film study perspective, I found this to be a wonderfully enjoyable film. As a C-V fan, I was immediately captivated by the edgy mis en scene and sound track. If you grew up in the 1960s, or want to see what those of us who did were seeing in the media, this is a wonderful example. As a drug prevention film, this movie is a stylistic and interesting failure. It trots out the same trite and tired bromides that are still ineffective today. Most heroin users are not "junkies," and drug abuse is caused by disenfranchisement, not ÃÂdemon dope.ÃÂ Prohibition doesnÃÂt work, and neither do dishonest prevention films. Donny B is a terrible fake smoker, and far too healthy looking to be at deathÃÂs door. ItÃÂs horribly ironic that the real causes of drug abuse (poverty, unemployment, prejudice) are everywhere in the backdrop of the film, but the writersÃÂ slavish devotion to the government line on drug abuse - blame the victim - results in a ludicrous voice over.